Day 2 in Sydney: Interview and afternoon tea at the Chinese Garden of Friendship (9th March 2011)

Was up at 7am for breakfast in the studio apartment (cereal and milk we picked up on our way home last night - we have a bar fridge and some kitchen items provided) and got ready for my interview. Gee, it has been over 3 years that I last had to go for an interview. I'm actually feeling quite nervous! I've done my due diligence, doing as much research as I can last night on this company though frankly, there was hardly any information found on the internet (only 3 short paragraphs on the company website which doesn't fully explain what the company does and search results returned only brief details of which clients they have worked with). Oh well, tough luck - I'll just have to wing it.

Jono is just awesome :) He accompanied me to see the recruiter on George St and then took the train together from Wynyard to North Sydney (return fare $4.40 per person) for my interview. Was really nice of him to come along for support as well as make sure I got to the interview on time. Thank god for smartphones - it sure makes life a lot easier with GPS access! We were able to locate 100 Miller St where the interview was held on the iPhone quite easily.

While Jono waited at the lobby, I headed up to the 33rd floor to meet us with my interviewer. I was early so the receptionist got me to take a seat at the waiting area. Wow, the view from the windows were amazing - you could see the Sydney Harbour Bridge with skyscrapers on both ends and boats of varying shapes and sizes moving in perfect harmony in the busy harbour waters. Hmm, I wouldn't mind having an office in this building - great views, immaculate interior design and it seemed rather busy with people zipping in and out of meeting rooms. They have 4 receptionists at the front desk - it must be a huge company if they needed that many.

"That was quick - how did it go?" asked Jono when I returned to meet him about 20 minutes later. I thought it went well and the role of Management Information (MI) Analyst sounded like very interesting with potential for career development in the area I would like to build on. My interviewer turned out to be a man around my age who happened to also be a Kiwi from Wellington. A part of me wondered if he was really interested in talking to me about the role. Why? Well, for starters, he kept forgetting where we got to in the interview when the receptionist popped in and out with his coffee order, making me feel slightly uncomfortable if he was really concerned about the coffee or eyeing up the receptionist's short skirt. And as the interview progressed, he never really asked me what I could bring into his organisation but more of why I moved here (he was quite keen to hear the story of how Jono got the job at Google) and why I changed jobs from being an administrator to IT - it was all very informal. Towards the end of the interview, I was told that the team I would be joining (if successful, of course) was a newly formed team in the company and that the Senior MI Analyst I would be working with had just been hired the week before. "There's a second interview, this time with the HR manager, if I get through the first round," I said to Jono as we headed back to the train station. Fingers crossed and hopefully we'll know the outcome of the interview soon.

Around 11am, we took the train back to the city and headed to the Apple Store on George St to get me a replacement phone casing for my iPhone 3GS. Oh my god, it was SO busy, even on a weekday! 3 floors of Apple products to try out and/or buy and there were even a group of people taking a course on iPad functionalities (these courses would suit my folks who aren't tech savvy but use flash toys). It was just cool being in the Apple Store, its sleek design complimenting its products, walking up and down the thick glass stairs and looking out onto George Street from inside - it felt like I was in a huge glass cube!

At 12.45pm, we walked to Chilli Cha Cha Thai restaurant located around the corner from our apartment for lunch. I had the Chicken Cashew Nut Stir-fry with rice while Jono ordered the Chicken Pad Thai, both costing us $9.90 
inclusive of a free drink each  (this is part of their lunch specials deal). The food was great and the iced tea I ordered tasted exactly like the 'teh peng' (iced milk tea sweetened with condensed milk) served in Malaysia. Ah, flashback of the past for me, even if it was too sweet for my palate...

We continued on our exploration of the city after lunch and took a walk towards Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, stumbling upon a beautiful Chinese garden next to Tumbalong Park. We decided to check it out and for $11, we got an admission and afternoon tea combo ticket each to visit The Chinese Garden of Friendship. The garden is modeled after the typical private gardens from the Shang dynasty (
ca. 1600 BCE – 1046 BCE) and was designed by Guangzhou, Sydney's Chinese sister city, symbolizing the bond between China and Australia. Unlike Western-style gardens, there are no planted flowerbeds or manicured lawns but instead has aspects of nature recreated in artfully designed landscapes that features waterfalls, mountains, lakes and forests. We went on a journey discovering the many parts of the garden, walking through the serpentine walkways, stopping every now and then to admire the exotic plants, sculptures, landscape and observing the the animals that live within the grounds - Eastern Water Dragons basking in the sun on large rocks, cranes taking shelter under willow trees and plenty of hungry koi in the lakes waiting for visitors to feed them with pieces of bread. Hidden stone pathways led into private courtyards and traditional pagoda-style pavilions. We even found a few Westerners donned in traditional Chinese costumes which you can hire from the costume shop on site and have photos taken in them. 

It was nice feeling being here, so tranquil and you somehow feel rested, as if you have been zapped to another world, all worries and stress in your present life miraculously disappeared. Our last stop in our self-tour was at The Teahouse where we had our afternoon tea - a choice of either English tea with scones or Chinese tea with dim sum was available with our tickets and since there were two of us, we each got one to share. A great way to end our visit in the garden and I highly recommend getting the combo ticket when you come visit. And make sure you take your time to unwind and take in the surroundings - there is no need to rush. Photos taken at the Chinese Garden of Friendship here

We took a brief rest at the apartment before our property viewings late afternoon. Neither were suitable (poor location and design) and boy, did we do a lot of walking today, visiting the garden and then to suburbs Ultimo and Chippendale for the viewings. My legs are sore!

Dinner tonight was at Sushi Roll in World Square at the ground floor of World Tower (
a 230 metre skyscraper located at Liverpool St). Cost us $47.50 for the sushi train dinner and beers which we thought was a bit steep. Back to the apartment around 8pm and Jono made me guide us home without the use of the GPS. Ah, success - we got home without the GPS! Starting to get some idea of directions in this city ;)


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